Beck Center English Dept. University Libraries Emory University
Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Women's Genre Fiction Project

Panola, an electronic edition

by Sarah A. Dorsey [Dorsey, Sarah A. (Sarah Anne), 1829-1879.]

date: 1877
source publisher: T. B. Peterson & Brothers
collection: Genre Fiction

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DOCTEUR CANONGE was extremely beloved in his neighborhood. He had a passion for his profusion of medicine, and his tenderness and sympathy for his "poor patients" were ever ready and unfailing in all demands upon him.

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Half the time he forgot to put down his medical calls in his books, and if a neighbor was cramped in his circumstances, the docteur's bill was never presented at all. When he received money, which he often did, he would thrust the bank notes into his pocket, where Lizbette would discover them woefully damaged by passing through the hands of the washerwoman who had charge of his usual costumes of linen or Attakapas cotonnade. It was only on grand occasions that the docteur appeared in the glory of black broadcloth, with all his ribands in his buttonholes. He had a pardonable small vanity in his ribands. They had been sent him by different scientific societies; and so "farouche" Republican as he was in principle, he valued the rewards of science above all things. When his brother Jacob, who had been so successful in accumulating money, reproached the docteur for his carelessness of what Jacob regarded as the chief end of life--"the making of money"--the docteur would shrug his shoulders up to his ears, and reply:

"What would you have, Jacob? I haf not zie talent to make much money; and zen I haf nevare had zie time eider; I hat' been so busy in my life wiz oder sings, zat I had not any time at all! You see I haf no time!"

Jacob's "umph," sneering and contemptuous as it was, never affected the docteur's equanimity. He | | 139 always persisted that he would have made a very great deal of money if he had had time to spare!

Docteur Canonge was the most tolerant of men, very patient of all men's idiosyncrasies, which were a never ceasing study of deepest interest to him. Physically active, and so quick and restless as to be almost impatient, he was yet the very gentlest of human beings.

He was loyal, true, and deeply grateful in character. He had a very quick wit, that seemed sometimes to have a sting in its vivacity; but there was m root of bitterness in the man. The only thing he was not tolerant of was intolerance.

His religion was profound, but rather pantheistical. He read everything, from the Bhagavat Gita down to Comte and Herbert Spencer.

"Every than," he used to say, "makes for himself, according to the receptive power of his mind and senses, an image of zie universe, which, of course, decides his life here. We can see only so much as our eyes will perceive of anyzing. My idea of deity and zie universe must be an image, projected out of my own mind, not out of anozer mind. We can only make a guess at zie sum of probabilities. It is ver' foolish to dogmatize about anyzing. Trutt is like zie beautiful emerald bird in zie fairy tale, zat flies ever before us, enticing us to follow it to the more beautiful and better life. We can nevare seize it, but it is of great advantage zat | | 140 we are led on. We learn; our souls expand. We enjoy larger life, fuller growth. We become grander beings; and all zie happiness we are capable of, we can find in zie pursuit of trutt; zie possession we can nevare have! Zie home of trutt is in zie bosons of deity! Aspiration and power of growth--zose are zie real joys of life; and it is mercifully provided zat we can nevare attain to positive trutt about nozing. As we grow, our planes of thought do widen, and we see zie light of knowledge streamen in on us from all sides, not one sides! I sink sometimes zat my mind's eve haf acquired as many facets as zat of a fly's eye. I see so many sides of trutt. I call only approach to trutt! I nevare can catch zat fairy bird."

Yet, with all his gentleness, Docteur Canonge was known to be a man of imperturbable coolness and of unfailing courage, both moral and physical. he had no sense of fear; but he ranked courage and integrity as simple elemental principles "of a gentleman." he considered it as a matter of course for gentlemen to be brave. Where he found the quality lacking, he treated it as an organic disease, or weakness of nerves, to be regarded as a serious malady.

He never had been known to quarrel with any one. But on one occasion, the son of a friend of his, visiting him, was very grossly insulted by a well-known Creole bully. The young man was what the old docteur called "a singularly nervous person." Other | | 141 people said he was a coward. At any rate the next day, while the notorious bully was swaggering along the public street, in the most frequented part of it, he was met face to face by Docteur Canonge, who stepped briskly along, carrying a small cowhide in his hand. The docteur was bright, gay, smiling, as he saluted the many friends who thronged the pave. When he reached the bully, he stopped short and, lifting his hat very courteously, he told him he "had come to request an apology for his probably unintentional affront to his (Docteur Canonge's) guest." The bully glared at hint with ineffable contempt, and with a savage oath refused to make "any apology." "I regret, then," said the little docteur, "that I shall have to apply this!" Lifting his hand quickly, he smote the infuriated duellist on the face with his little riding-whip. With an ejaculation the man sprang upon. him; but the docteur slipped nimbly aside, and brought down the whip once more keenly upon the man's shoulders. A crowd rushed in and separated the combatants.

The next day Docteur Canonge fought the bully with small-swords and wounded him in the arm. So soon as he had disabled him, Docteur Canonge proffered his assistance to aid the surgeon in dressing the wound. His adversary apologized to the guest. Docteur Canonge spoke only once of the affair. He said to an intimate friend, "Poor B--, he is unfortunately of a very nervous temperament! | | 142 page image : 142     PANOLA. Of course, I had to fight for him! It was a necessity of honor. It is all matter of temperament! It is inconvenient to be nervous, as we have to live under zie code of honor here."

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